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Hi Everyone,

I'm wondering what your thoughts are regarding the use of Instructional Designers in the development of Blended/Online courses: do you think they are fully utilized? For example: At your institution do faculty consult with them on the how to develop better discussions, how to write course objectives, basically: how to design an effective (or more effective) course? Or, do faculty primarily view them, and use them as technicians?

Thoughts, comments...

Ellen

Ellen Marie Murphy
Director of Online Curriculum
SUNY Empire State College
113 West Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-2100 Ext: 2961
twitter: ellen_marie
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Message from khbrow03@louisville.edu

Hi Ellen.

At UofL, we have a team of instructional designers who have led informal consultations for faculty over the years to address the points you identify below. Some faculty embrace it, others do not. Among other training, we also offer a 4-day intensive training for free (we actually pay the faculty to attend) over the summer to get them involved and educated on best practices for teaching an online course. Still, we realized the best way to get the best online courses was to offer our services of building the courses for the faculty members, and the faculty member remains the SME. This service just started this year and it was a very soft launch since we are not fully staffed for a large influx of new courses. Still, even those whom we’ve told about this (about 15 different departments on campus who are all currently running online courses or about to) have chosen the “light” option of the informal consultation. Some have chosen the middle door, which has them building the course but in partnership with our designers, but only one faculty member has requested us to build their course for them. We also offer a quality review service for online courses that will give quality online courses a seal (similar to the QM), but only two faculty members have requested it.

 

I think once the word gets out, this will grow but for now, I think our IDs are underutilized, despite their efforts to do more. But to your point about the technician role, they are definitely viewed as more than that and have historically been viewed as the design and pedagogy experts for online learning. It helps that our ID team is housed in the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, which is home to many units, but the one that is relevant to my point is the Teaching and Learning unit, which trains faculty how to teach in general, not necessarily online. So our Center has a great reputation on campus for supporting faculty in the areas of teaching and learning.

 

Hope that helps.

 

What prompted the question?

 

Kristen

 

 

 

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for the great response. It seems that the key at UofL is twofold: the location of the Instructional Designers (in the Center for Teaching & Learning), and that they offer seminars on best practices.  I think those are great ideas!

I was reading a lengthy blog post by a professor, who was complaining that he was required to take a special course in education, in order to learn how to teach. He said a number of things, but mostly that he felt a degree in education did not make a person a better teacher. He said he felt being in the classroom was the best teacher of all and that he felt most professors were better at teaching than folks in K-12 (who had been required to take courses in teaching).  There were a large number of comments posted, all from the perspective of students and all of which disagreed with the author of the blog.

My experience is that often instructors contact the IDs to ask how to use the LMS, and/or to get recommendations for some other technology they wish to incorporate into their teaching--that is that they use the Instructional Designers more like technologists (a higher level type of helpdesk). My experience is that it is not a common occurrence  for an ID to be asked a truly pedagogically related question: could you look at my discussion questions, could you take a look at the assessments I've designed and recommend some alternatives, what do you think about me adding a mobile component for my course (not the same question as "how do I add a mobile component")  I'm guessing there a large number of reasons why faculty might not ask those greater pedagogical  questions: time may be one of the greatest factors.  

What do others think? What are your experiences?  Do you think it makes a difference where the IDs are located? Do you think having IDs offer pedagogical workshops, as opposed to "how to" workshops, helps? Will faculty attend?  Does it make a difference if the IDs are also faculty members?


Ellen

Ellen Marie Murphy
Director of Online Curriculum
SUNY Empire State College
113 West Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-2100 Ext: 2961
twitter: ellen_marie



Message from khbrow03@louisville.edu

Ellen,

You raise some great questions. To be fair, we do get the technologist questions, too, and in fact, one of the IDs on our team is kind of the leading Bb “how to” person, even though she doesn’t report to the Bb director.

 

One other thing you raised that I wanted to address is the question of whether IDs should be faculty members also. While our IDs are not faculty, we do require the director for this position to have a PhD but not in any specific field, and all the designers have a masters in instructional design or something relevant, but not in IT. The PhD requirement gives the director a credential that is meaningful to certain faculty members. Whether having a PhD makes them more qualified to do the job is another discussion but nonetheless, it does give this position more credibility with certain faculty members. He also teaches as an adjunct online courses in some of our online programs, so that helps as well. He is not required to do this but he happens to have an interest in it.

 

Another requirement of all assistant directors in the Delphi Center is to be current on the latest trends, research and best practices in the field and report on it (informally) and refer to it whenever we make a recommendation. So faculty like that as well.

 

FYI that UCF has an excellent faculty training site and structure. Besides their instructional designers, they have faculty ambassadors (seasoned online instructors) to help faculty who are new teaching online. http://teach.ucf.edu/

 

Thanks, Ellen!

 

 

Kristen Brown
Assistant Director for Online Learning
Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning
University of Louisville
p: (502) 852-8565
e: kristen.brown@louisville.edu

http://louisville.edu/online

 

Dear Ellen,

Unfortunately, our institution currently tends to regard our IDs as they develop their courses as technicians although we work carefully with them on the pedagogy of teaching online. We even have an Online Pedagogy Institute (http://www.wpunj.edu/irt/online-pedagogy-institute/index.dot). However, we are in the process now of changing that image as much as possible. We are going to advertise our services with the formation of templates to move f2f courses to online. We are going to offer “coaching” services to faculty to do so.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

Thanks,

Sandie

 

Sandra L. Miller, Ed.D.

Director of Instruction & Research Technology

William Paterson University

300 Pompton Road

Wayne, NJ  07470

973.720.2530

millers@wpunj.edu

P Think before you print

 

 

Having been on both sides of this issue, I've been trying to follow it wearing one hat and then the other.

The role of the instructional designer, it seems to me, is a political live wire. 

Has any university (or ANY group) spelled out a clear role for its instructional designers, and is it limited?  Were faculty--and I mean the Faculty Senate or the faculty union, not just a token faculty member carefully preselected by the administration--part of that discussion, or included in the decision to hire IDs?

In reaching out to faculty, those supervising the instructional designers (or the IDs themselves) would be wise to keep the political aspect in mind.

Glenn Everett, PhD
Pembroke, MA
gseverett1@gmail.com
781-293-5857
617-688-2102
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/geverett
Blog:  http://gseverett1.wordpress.com/

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Hi Glenn, Thanks for joining the discussion. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the "political aspect", but would sincerely like to hear more. Ellen -----G Everett wrote: ----- ======================= To: BLEND-ONLINE@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU From: G Everett Date: 02/16/2012 05:06PM Subject: Re: [BLEND-ONLINE] Instructional Designers under utilized? ======================= Having been on both sides of this issue, I've been trying to follow it wearing one hat and then the other. The role of the instructional designer, it seems to me, is a political live wire. Has any university (or ANY group) spelled out a clear role for its instructional designers, and is it limited? Were faculty--and I mean the Faculty Senate or the faculty union, not just a token faculty member carefully preselected by the administration--part of that discussion, or included in the decision to hire IDs? In reaching out to faculty, those supervising the instructional designers (or the IDs themselves) would be wise to keep the political aspect in mind. Glenn Everett, PhD Pembroke, MA gseverett1@gmail.com 781-293-5857 617-688-2102 LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/geverett Blog: http://gseverett1.wordpress.com/ ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/. ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
Hi Ellen -

As to the political aspect:

Although Instructional Design has been around since at least WWII, I was not aware of IDs on campus before the e-learning boom.

Faculty have treated their classrooms as sacrosanct, and seen this as a matter of Academic Freedom.  The sanctity extended to syllabi, teaching styles, assignments--that is, all matters pertaining to the curriculum--most especially course design.  Administrators generally respected those boundaries.

Suddenly, with the rise of e-learning and online courses, that changed.  The implication is that faculty are not competent to design these courses, that design must be done by other people--instructional designers.  So as institutions announce their intention to move more and more to blended and online courses, faculty see their role on campus being reduced from Most Important--indeed, the very reason for the existence of the university--to that of (easily replaceable) facilitator.  And you don't have to look very far to find people willing to say that students are better served by courses designed by instructional designers and facilitated by adjuncts hired for their non-academic credentials. Faculty may well be overly sensitive in regards to their position and their prerogatives; but can anyone argue that the faculty role has *gained* importance in the last few decades?

From that perspective, working with instructional designers is cooperating in one's own extinction. These fears may not be expressed or even admitted, but I strongly suspect that they are there.

I have overstated the case in order to make the point; and I have ignored for the moment the very real differences between teaching F2F and online.  I have seen at first hand the problems with courses simply dumped online with no consideration for the change in mode. But the question was about the politics involved, and I think this aspect has not been addressed. I would welcome any information to the contrary.

Glenn Everett, PhD
Pembroke, MA
gseverett1@gmail.com
781-293-5857
617-688-2102
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/geverett
Blog:  http://gseverett1.wordpress.com/


Well, ID support staff have been around for many years prior to elearning. I know first hand. I was an ID person back in the days of ITV. (Gawd, I'm getting old.) But, what Glenn purports is basically true. I found that faculty had a disdain for anyone - especially a masters-educated person as I was at that time - providing them instructional guidance in teaching. The term "Instructional Designer" became a diluted, much maligned title. I was relegated to ITV technical support. "Pure" instructional designers exist, but my experience is that they work in resource dense environments where a variety of media specialists tackle courses - e.g., Duke University's online MBA program is one such environment. In those instances, the instructor is really "just" the SME. The "team" (often four or more people) design rich learning experiences. I recall seeing an interesting survey a few years undertaken by someone at Trinity University. They surveyed instructional designers to see what their typical day involved. You would not believe the diversity of responses. Everything from helpdesk agents to videographers. Many CIOs really don't even understand what an ID even person is. So, they re-title them "learning architects" or some such thing. It's perhaps the most nebulous, difficult to define post-secondary position there can possibly be...

RG


From: The EDUCAUSE Blended and Online Learning Constituent Group Listserv [BLEND-ONLINE@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] on behalf of G Everett [gseverett1@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 5:06 PM
To: Rob Gibson; The EDUCAUSE Blended and Online Learning Constituent Group Listserv
Subject: Re: [BLEND-ONLINE] Instructional Designers under utilized?

Hi Ellen -

As to the political aspect:

Although Instructional Design has been around since at least WWII, I was not aware of IDs on campus before the e-learning boom.

Faculty have treated their classrooms as sacrosanct, and seen this as a matter of Academic Freedom.  The sanctity extended to syllabi, teaching styles, assignments--that is, all matters pertaining to the curriculum--most especially course design.  Administrators generally respected those boundaries.

Suddenly, with the rise of e-learning and online courses, that changed.  The implication is that faculty are not competent to design these courses, that design must be done by other people--instructional designers.  So as institutions announce their intention to move more and more to blended and online courses, faculty see their role on campus being reduced from Most Important--indeed, the very reason for the existence of the university--to that of (easily replaceable) facilitator.  And you don't have to look very far to find people willing to say that students are better served by courses designed by instructional designers and facilitated by adjuncts hired for their non-academic credentials. Faculty may well be overly sensitive in regards to their position and their prerogatives; but can anyone argue that the faculty role has *gained* importance in the last few decades?

From that perspective, working with instructional designers is cooperating in one's own extinction. These fears may not be expressed or even admitted, but I strongly suspect that they are there.

I have overstated the case in order to make the point; and I have ignored for the moment the very real differences between teaching F2F and online  I have seen at first hand the problems with courses simply dumped online with no consideration for the change in mode. But the question was about the politics involved, and I think this aspect has not been addressed. I would welcome any information to the contrary.

Glenn Everett, PhD
Pembroke, MA
gseverett1@gmail.com
781-293-5857
617-688-2102
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/geverett
Blog:  http://gseverett1.wordpress.com/


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